Oldsmar officials recently agreed to look into changing the city’s code to allow breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs in certain sections of town.
The craft beer industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the state of Florida, with a reported 397 percent increase in craft breweries in the Sunshine State over the last six years.
And while not every city is as craft brew-happy as Dunedin, which features seven breweries within a mile of each other downtown, research shows 40 percent of the state’s breweries reside in the Tampa Bay area, where having one is often considered a point of pride for many communities.
Oldsmar has its share of bars, as well as the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, located on Hillsborough County side of Race Track Road, but there are no breweries currently in town.
However, thanks to a discussion at a recent work session, that could soon change.
“Staff has been approached many times over the years about establishing breweries in the TCCR district, but a brewery manufacturing beer on site, that’s not permitted by city code because it’s considered manufacturing,” planner Steve Everett told city officials, including the mayor and council members, during a work session on the Town Center Development Code on April 30.
The Oldsmar City Council is considering changes to the Town Center Code to allow the establishment of microbeweries or brewpubs in the area.
After explaining the difference between brewpubs, microbreweries and breweries (mainly food and production volume), one council member questioned whether such establishments were worth the time.
“Oldsmar will never become famous for microbreweries,” longtime local lawmaker Jerry Beverland said.
City Council member Jerry Beverland.
“They’ll be a thing of the past someday.”
While some reports show Beverland’s prediction may indeed come true, one day, there’s no denying craft breweries currently serve as important attractions for many communities.
“That’s old, antiquated thinking,” Council member Gabby McGee said of the restrictions currently in place preventing the establishment of the facilities in the Town Center district.
“I’m against old traditions that don’t fit modern times.”
Following a brief further discussion, the council directed staff to look into changing the codes and to bring the results before them at a later date.
Afterwards, McGee and the mayor spoke about the issue.
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
“I don’t know what formally needs to be done to allow them in the CRA, but we can’t do it right now, so we want to change it,” Bevis said by phone.
Asked about having breweries or microbreweries in Oldsmar, the mayor was supportive of the idea.
“I’m fine with it,” he said. “I don’t foresee us getting something as big as the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, but for a smaller production facility, I’m in favor of it.”
McGee, who has traveled the world extensively, said she’s long understood the value of establishing craft breweries in her home city.
“I think the discussion was long overdue,” she wrote.
Oldsmar City Council member Gabby McGee.
“I am pleased to know that we have had some interested parties in opening taprooms and/or microbreweries within our city.”
“Millennials love craft beer and are the primary consumers of it because they like variety, so the availability of breweries and taprooms in our downtown and industrial parks will inevitably draw a younger demographic, additional beer tourism and could help create a sense of identity and pride within our city.
McGee added, “Imagine someone in the future enjoying a beer at the airport or at a restaurant, and on the label it says Brewed in Oldsmar, Florida!”